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Fall preview 2013: international books

In the July/August issue, Q&Q looks ahead at fall’s most anticipated international fiction and non-fiction.


Thomas Pynchon has been notably prolific of late, at least by his standards. The elusive author’s third novel in less than a decade appears in September from Penguin. Bleeding Edge ($29.50 cl.) takes place in New York City in 2001, between the collapse of the dot-com bubble and the events of 9/11. The story centres on an unlicensed fraud investigator “ and mother of two “ who gets caught up in the corrupt world of Silicon Alley when she begins to look into the finances of a billionaire CEO.

The latest from Jonathan Lethem is a family saga about three generations of American radicals wrapped up in their own utopian visions. Covering the parlour communism of the 1930s right up to the Occupy movement, Dissident Gardens (Doubleday Canada, $32 cl., Sept.) promises to be a personal yet political read.

Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri revisits the relationship between India and the U.S. in her forthcoming novel. The Lowland (Knopf Canada, $29.95 cl., Sept.) is an intergenerational tale about two brothers who take gravely different paths in life. ¢ Paul Harding was the surprise Pulitzer winner in 2010 for his quiet, contemplative debut novel, Tinkers. His follow-up, Enon (HarperCollins, $28.99 cl., Sept.), involves a character from the earlier novel dealing with the loss of his daughter.

Returning to the familiar topic of mother-daughter relationships, Amy Tan‘s The Valley of Amazement (HarperCollins, $34.99 cl., Nov.) is about a Chinese-American courtesan dealing with her mother’s abandonment while coming to terms with her own missing daughter. ¢ The latest from Lynn Cullen is a novel teeming with romance and deceit. Mrs. Poe (Gallery/Simon & Schuster, $29.99 cl., Sept.) follows a young writer in 19th-century New York who becomes involved with the literary sensation of the moment, Edgar Allan Poe.

At least on the surface, Elizabeth Gilbert‘s The Signature of All Things (Viking, $31 cl., Oct.) has few things in common with her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. Spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, the novel focuses on the relationship between an unlikely couple: a clearheaded scientist and utopian artist.

In The Guts (Knopf Canada, $29.95 cl., Aug.), Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle returns to the characters of his breakout debut, The Commitments. In the new novel, the once young, musically inclined, spirited characters are wiser, middle-aged, and facing cancer.

In her debut novel, U.K. author Emma J. Chapman tells the haunting story of a long-married woman who begins to have visions that may hold the key to her past. How to Be a Good Wife (Picador/Raincoast, $28.99 cl., Oct.) is billed as being in the tradition of Emma Donoghue’s Room and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep. ¢ Chuck Palahniuk is back with a novel that promises to be as twisted as ever. In Doomed (Doubleday Canada, $29.95 cl., Oct.), Madison Spencer continues the afterlife adventures she began in last year’s Damned.

Crime, mystery & horror

The Shining has received a surge of attention of late thanks to the documentary Room 237, about the film version of the Stephen King classic. So it’s a good thing the horror master is out this fall with a sequel of sorts. Doctor Sleep (Scribner/S&S, $34.99 cl., Sept.) follows Dan Torrance (now middle-aged) as he continues to grapple with his unusual gift and does battle with a tribe of people who travel the highways in search of sustenance.

Jayne Anne Phillips‘s latest novel, Quiet Dell (Scribner/S&S, $32 cl., Oct.), is the retelling of a grisly real-life crime in 1930s America “ the murder of a widow and her three children “ at a time when the press was just starting to sensationalize local crimes. ¢ Marisha Pessl earned solid reviews for her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Her follow-up, Night Film (Bond Street Books, $29.95 cl., Aug.), further delves into literary-noir territory in telling the story of a notorious film director’s daughter who is found dead, and a young investigative reporter who feels he is in danger after discovering too much.

Inspector Rebus is back on the force in Ian Rankin‘s Saints of the Shadow Bible (Orion/Hachette, $28.99 cl., Nov.). This time Rebus and Detective Malcolm Fox are suspected of foul play when a 30-year-old case is reopened. ¢ Lisa Scottoline returns with a new novel featuring the all-female law firm Rosato & Associates. In Accused (St. Martin’s Press/Raincoast, $29.99 cl., Oct.), a murder case is revisited after new evidence is presented by the victim’s 13-year-old sister.

Highly praised when it appeared last year in the U.K., Weirdo (House of Anansi Press, $19.95 pa., Oct.), by Cathi Unsworth, is about a teenage girl convicted of murder in the 1980s, and an investigator who revisits the case decades later.


Julie Maroh‘s Blue Angel (Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95 pa., Oct.) received a huge boost when the film version won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Originally published in French as Le bleu est une couleur chaude, the graphic novel tells the story of Clementine, a girl who falls for a blue-haired stranger she meets at a gay bar in 1990s Paris. ¢ An historical graphic novel, Showa 1926“1939 (Drawn & Quarterly, $24.95 pa., Oct.) paints a portrait of Japan leading up to the Second World War. The first volume in a planned history of 20th-century Japan, the meticulously researched book is framed by author Shigeru Mizuki‘s earliest memories of his country. ¢ Following his successful illustrated version of Moby-Dick, artist Matt Kish is taking a similar approach with another literary masterpiece. In this new edition of Heart of Darkness (Tin House/Publishers Group Canada, $29.50 cl., Nov.), every page of Joseph Conrad‘s novel is accompanied by a drawing or painting.

Memoir & Biography

The five years that Maajid Nawaz spent in jail following the events of 9/11 completely reformed the London-based author’s political and religious views. Radical: My Journey Out of Islamist Extremism (Lyons/Canadian Manda Group, $29.95 cl., Oct.), written with Tom Bromley, is a look at one man’s efforts to combat the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Europe and around the world. ¢ Paris-based journalist Annick Cojean‘s Gaddafi’s Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the Abuses of Power in Libya (Grove/PGC, $28.50 cl., Sept.) is the account of a Libyan girl who was a sexual slave to former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. A bestseller in France, the book is an investigation into sexual servitude and corruption.

Anjelica Huston won an Oscar, at age 34, for her role in the film Prizzi’s Honor, but her early life was no less eventful. The daughter of iconic director John Huston spent her late teens in London, England, cavorting with the Rolling Stones and understudying for Marianne Faithful. The first of a multi-volume autobiography, A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York (Scribner/S&S, $28.99 cl., Nov.), follows the actor into her early twenties.

The New York Review of Books called The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins‘ book on genetics, the best work of popular science ever written. This fall, the author and noted atheist will publish his first memoir. An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist (HarperCollins, $39.99 cl.) is out in September. ¢ A companion to last year’s Winter Journal, Paul Auster‘s Report from the Interior (M&S, $30 cl., Nov.), which details the novelist’s development through the 1950s and ’60s, is billed as his most intimate autobiographical work to date.

History & ideas

Canadian-born journalist Nina Munk spent six years following economist Jeffrey Sachs on his journey to implement the Millennium Villages Project, which aimed to eradicate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. In The Idealist (M&S, $32.95 cl., Sept.), Munk addresses how Sachs’s approach to global poverty may have been overly ambitious.

Pulitzer winner Doris Kearns Goodwin is well known for her historical narratives involving major American political figures. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (S&S, $43.50 cl., Oct.) focuses on the broken friendship between two presidential hopefuls in the 1912 election. ¢ Catastrophe: 1914 (HarperCollins, $26.99 pa., Sept.), by British journalist and historian Max Hastings, covers the year Europe shifted violently toward war.

The untold story of how Denmark’s Jewish population escaped the Nazis in 1943 “ with the help of the King, his ministers, parliament, and average citizens “ is detailed in Countrymen (Signal/M&S,  $32.95 cl., Sept.). Bo Lidegaard, a Danish journalist and historian, describes the two-week period of defiance and simple courage via diary entries, letters, and family accounts.

Activist Paul Kivel takes aim at Christian hegemony in Living in the Shadow of the Cross (New Society Publishers, $18.95 pa, Oct.), in which the educator and activist argues that Western religion contributes to society’s biggest problems and fuels our seemingly endless War on Terror.

Politics & Current Affairs

For better or worse, political journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann are probably responsible for the newfound popularity of the clichéd expression game changer. For Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Penguin, $31.50 cl., Nov.), the pair conducted hundreds of interviews to provide a fast-paced narrative of the 2012 presidential election. ¢ HRC (Doubleday Canada, $30 cl., Dec.), by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, looks at the political renaissance of Hillary Clinton, from her defeat in the Democratic primaries to her years as secretary of state, and looks ahead at the possibility of a presidential run in 2016. ¢ NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik tells the story of the battle between Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the British government. Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires (PublicAffairs/PGC, $31 cl.) appears in October.

Photography & Pop Culture

Ten of the world’s top nature photographers come together in The Masters of Nature Photography (Firefly Books, $45 cl., Oct.). Edited by Rosamund Kidman Cox, the book features 120 photos from winners of a competition sponsored by the Natural History Museum and the BBC.

Love him or hate him, Wes Anderson is one of the most idiosyncratic and influential filmmakers of his generation. The Wes Anderson Collection (Abrams/Manda, $45 cl., Oct.) is one of the first in-depth looks at the Moonrise Kingdom director’s filmography and personal life. The book, by New York magazine critic Matt Zoller, includes an introduction from Michael Chabon.